Joe Samad: Politicians Are the Biggest Gamblers

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Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali from PAS has hopped on the bandwagon again about banning gambling and alcohol.

He should be concentrating on helping plantation industries and commodities exporters affected by the pandemic rather than talk about centuries-old habits. Talking about moral values, Khairuddin has still not been charged for violating the quarantine order while ordinary citizens have been jailed or have had to pay heavy fines for the same violation.

Even former prime minister Najib Razak wants Khairuddin charged, citing widespread dissatisfaction.

On alcohol consumption, perhaps people are drowning their sorrows and enjoying a bit of tipple in hard times. Gambling and alcohol are perhaps a lesser evil compared with corruption cases like that involving 1MDB that can wreck a nation’s economy. Why not speak about that?

Khairuddin should realise the biggest gamblers in Malaysia are the politicians themselves. They gamble almost on everything – who is going to be the next prime minister, who has the numbers to form a government, which names are on the list, how long the government will last, etc, etc.

The members of Dewan Rakyat (222 in all) are playing a game similar to 4D numbers with the hope of a big win. The winning prize ranges from the post of prime minister, deputy prime minister, ministers, deputy ministers and plum GLC positions. Those who don’t have positions in Malaysia are made special envoys to places such as China and Saudi Arabia.

If the politicians in the game are unsure of the number from 1 to 222, they can “pau” it too. Permutation play (pau) multiplies your chances by allowing you to buy all possible digit combinations in all their different orders. It gives you less headache than guessing and predicting an outcome.

General elections used to be simple. Every five years we vote for members of the Dewan Rakyat who we hope will deliver on their campaign promises. Dewan Rakyat, literally “Hall of the People” is no longer so. It’s the hall for frogs, party traitors, backstabbers, connivers, and any name you may want to call it. It’s a circus of poor entertainment. It’s not Cirque du Soleil as our politicians do not have the skill for a polished act like the world-famous circus.

Malaysian politics are more the ‘wayang kulit’ type where the politicians are controlled by a puppet master behind a shadow screen. Each puppet string is attached to some kind of reward, be it cash or position to entice them to jump and switch camps. To confuse the people, they develop acronyms such as MF, PN, and GRS, but they are one and the same. They all came from the same party at one time or another and inherited the same DNA.

Parties like PAS are happy to play bridesmaid to MF and PN. The former deputy minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said PAS must decide whether to stay in Perikatan Nasional or build up Muafakat Nasional with Umno. The Islamic party can no longer play both sides for its own political survival, but must decide sincerely whether it wants to work with one partner or the other.

PAS is the weakest party in MF or PN and has to ride on the coattails of bigger parties to be in government. PAS still does not know which side its bread is buttered and hence it will continue to flip-flop hoping for a bigger payday.

Our politicians are an ungrateful lot. After being given cushy positions with the trappings of power, big salaries, perks and allowances galore, personal assistants, and drivers, they still want more.

In a news portal interview, former minister and MP Nazri Aziz spelt out why Umno was not happy.

Selective court prosecution, unfair distribution of Cabinet positions, and appointments to key posts without consultation — these are some of the key frustrations openly acknowledged by Umno, according to Nazri, of his party members’ opposition to PPBM. He said the incidents had led an “enraged” Umno leadership to consider withdrawing the party’s support from the ruling Perikatan Nasional.

Nazri said many were distressed by PPBM’s strong-arm decisions during and after the recent Sabah election, especially after it had its own member appointed to the coveted chief minister’s seat. Nazri also said there had been “unequal” application of justice or selective persecution against Umno leaders under the PN.

Let’s put everything in the right perspective, the people did not vote in this makeshift government. Even Muhyiddin Yassin acknowledged that his government was not the one that Malaysians had voted for. Do the people really care what positions Umno or PAS leaders get, or how many?

The people of Malaysia are struggling with the challenges of Covid-19. Many owners of businesses have to close down, the number of jobless people is going up, and families are struggling to make ends meet while the spoiled brat politicians are arguing about who gets what position.

There is no selective prosecution. Anyone who loots the country should be held accountable and be tried in a court of law, regardless of position.

In Sabah, Bung Moktar Radin, an Umno strongman, made a big fuss over the portfolio he was given. Not happy with being given the deputy chief minister’s post, he also wanted the coveted ministry of works. After a tense moment that threatened to scuttle the new state government, the new chief minister, Hajiji Mohd Noor gave in to his demand.

The selfishness of the politicians and their over-eagerness to take the spoils as their own right shows the quality of people we have as our leaders. It is self before the King and country. Our MPs do not serve the rakyat any more but themselves; their constituents are secondary.

The rumour mills are working overtime. Opinion writers and political analysts are giving their opinions and, like the shifting sand in the desert blown by the winds, the plot changes every second.

Umno, PAS, PPBM and smaller parties are either kingmakers or pawns in a high stakes game. Whoever wins, there will always be another who will meet the Yang di-Pertuan Agong down the road with a new fairy tale of numbers. Several MPs have announced their motions of no-confidence against Muhyiddin and the King has reminded them in his royal address in May to display political maturity and empathy for the public.

Sadly, political maturity and empathy for the public are non-existent. – FMT

The views expressed here are strictly those of the author, Joe Samad.